Life Events

Baptisms & Thanksgivings

The Church of England offers two great services of welcome – Thanksgiving and Baptism (Christening).

Both services celebrate the gift of life, but with different commitments and promises made before God. So, what’s the difference?


This service is an opportunity to celebrate the gift of a child with one’s Family and Friends present, but without making promises to follow Jesus. Within the service, we give thanks to God for new life, and commit both you and your child(ren) to God, asking for his help and blessing in the years to come.

Instead of Godparents as in a Christening Service, your child will have Sponsors.

Baptism (Christening)

Within this service, your child is baptised and welcomed into the world’s largest family – God’s Family!

The service involves Parents Godparents making promises before God to follow Jesus and to attend Church regularly. This is important because it helps both adults and children to grow in faith. Following Jesus can be one of the most exciting journeys in life.

Symbols including Water, a Candle and a Bible are used to help us understand God’s amazing love for us all.

For parents choosing Baptism (Christening), we invite you to attend our Baptism Preparation Course which helps parents prepare for their child’s baptism and the exciting journey of life that awaits them after baptism. Click here for more details.

When are Services held?

Both Thanksgiving and Baptism Service are held on Sundays throughout the year at 12.45pm so as to accommodate all your family and friends! We welcome families and encourage you to come along as often as possible to any of the wide range of events on offer. Why not come and join our thriving, growing community, where we run a weekly toddler group; children’s programmes, a Sunday School and other family friendly events.

Baptism is also an option for adults and we are always delighted to meet with those ready to make this step in their Christian journey. Adults usually attend the Alpha course as part of their preparation, and adults can choose ‘full immersion’ baptism if they want!

Questions that are often asked

Due to the number of requests we receive, you will usually share a service with another family.

The Thanksgiving service offers parents the opportunity of having sponsors.

If parents wish to have their child baptised, then yes, baptised children do need Godparents.

Godparents must be willing to make the promises asked of them and to have been baptised themselves. If they haven’t been baptised, they may be able to be Sponsors, or they could explore Baptism themselves!

Parents can also be Godparents.

The guidelines suggest three or more – we recommend no more than four, but the final decision rests with you.

It is usual to have your child welcomed in the parish where you live or attend regularly so that your child can grow in that church family.

However, if there are particular reasons why you would like to have the service here, it is usually possible to arrange this with the agreement of your own local minister.

If you decide to have a Thanksgiving service, this does not imply any ongoing commitment to come to church. We would, however, be delighted to welcome you – and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find!

In contrast, the Christening service expects that parents and godparents will help their children to ‘take their place within the life and worship of the church.

There is no charge for either service. However, as a Church we are self-funding, and rely on people’s generosity. We always encourage families to make a donation.

To find out more about Thanksgivings and Baptisms, please come along to a Sunday 10.30am service or Get in Touch.


Getting married is the beginning of an exciting new chapter in your lives. As a church, we are delighted you want to get married here at St Mary’s Eaton Socon, and we want to help you make the most of your special day. We hope your service ‘sets the tone’ for the whole of your special day!

How do we get married at St Marys?

The first thing to do is to attend one of our Sunday 9am or 10.30am services.

This will give you an opportunity to meet a member of our clergy team who will be delighted to lead you through the booking and application process.

This consists of:

  • Discussing dates and times
  • Completing an application form
  • Paying a non-refundable deposit of £100
  • Completing the ID checks
  • Booking your places on the next Marriage Preparation Course

For proof of identity, please bring a Passport/Driver’s Licence for each of you.
For proof of address, please bring a Utility Bill, Bank Statement, Council Tax Bill etc for each of you.

After this, we will confirm your booking and the receipt of your deposit in writing.

Now you can go ahead and organise the rest of your wedding!

Questions that are often asked

Weddings can be held on any day of the week, subject to Church and Clergy availability.

There may be other weddings on your day, but our practice is to limit any day to two weddings. This helps to ensure that your special day is unrushed and as unique as possible.

To get married in church, you need to be able to meet just one of a number of qualifying connections. Such connections include: your parents live in the Parish; you have lived in the Parish for more than 6 months at some stage in your life.

If you’re unsure if you meet any of the qualifying connections, please do contact us as we would be delighted to explore what options might be possible.

You will need your Banns read in the Parish(es) you live in and in the church where your wedding will take place (if different). This is a legal requirement for which there is a statutory charge.

This depends on what you want. All options will be discussed during the Pre-Marriage Course and agreed when you meet the minister taking your wedding.

In a number of circumstances, yes! Please discuss this with the Vicar before making your booking.

Getting the best out of your marriage

We are also here to help you prepare for your married life together. By getting married in church, you are asking for God’s blessing on your life together – and this is the best start you can have. As such, all couples getting married at St Mary’s are encouraged to attend the Pre-Marriage Course we offer. Details of this will be sent to you.

Planning the Service

Around 4-6 months, you will receive a Wedding Service Pack that will help you plan your service.

Approximately 3-4 months before your wedding, you will meet with the minister conducting your wedding.

At this meeting, we will confirm your choice of music (e.g. Organ, Music Group, Choir, Bells etc), the various options available and the order of service. Some couples have even used ‘Barn Owls’ to deliver the rings (not supplied by us)!

If you are planning to produce a printed order of service, we will help to check it for you to make sure everything is right, and copyrights are noted.

Wedding Rehearsal

This is usually held on a weekday in the week leading up to your wedding.

Any questions…

If you have any questions, please get in touch.


We are here to care for you when your loved ones pass away.

Whether your remembering and giving thanks is held in the Church, a Crematorium or by the Graveside, we can help.

St Mary’s also has a Circle of Remembrance for cremated remains.

During the year, we hold two special events:

  • a Bereavement Afternoon Tea
  • a Service of Memories at which the names of our loved ones are read out

These help to keep remembering and giving thanks for our loved ones no longer with us.

Any questions…

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

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